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Steam Greenlight Landfill: Amazing Princess Sarah (PC/360/XONE)

A few weeks ago, I re-posted my review of Akane the Kunoichi. Akane the Kunoichi was fine, but it was so generic that I often forget that my review was positive. The game was cheap. It looked like a Newgrounds flash game, and it costs $3.00. In other words, I’m not going to leap to its defense if someone disagrees with my review. But in its defense, it’s certainly better than Haruneko’s follow up.

Amazing Princess Sarah is a somewhat of a spiritual successor to Akane the Kunoichi. They were made by the same developer, and they almost certainly use the same engine. Amazing Princess Sarah is a noteworthy improvement in its presentation. The visuals are much more varied and eye-catching than in Akane. The music still sounds like stock movie trailer fluff (and it probably is stock), but it’s better than Akane’s choice in stock music. And that’s about it for positives.

That’s… one way to kidnap someone.

Amazing Princess Sarah may look and sound better than Akane, but it plays worse. Akane, for all its faults, had decent level design and gameplay. Amazing Princess Sarah is often compared to that of Ghosts ‘n Goblins, but it’s only similar in the aesthetics. You have more control in the air, and the game is nowhere near as hard. It would be more accurate to describe it as a cross between Zelda II, Castlevania, and an even more cumbersome version of Super Mario Bros 2.

Your main goal is to traverse through five different levels, beat the boss at the end of each level, and rescue the king. Oh, Amazing Princess Sarah does the same reverse damsel in distress plotline. How creative I know! Each level can take up to half an hour to complete, and are about as long as three levels in Akane. Your character controls similarly to Link in Zelda II, and attacks similarly as well. You also have experience points that increase your health and attack power, just like Zelda II. But Amazing Princess Sarah is NOT an open world Metroidvania title.

Amazing Princess Sarah’s RPG elements add nothing to the game. In theory, they could have let players grind if they were having trouble. Unfortunately, you cannot backtrack in this game, and boss battles only throw weak cannon fodder enemies at you.

Combat consists of throwing random objects at enemies until they die, then picking up their corpses to throw at other enemies. Some enemies will even have unique effects upon death, such raining arrows, bomb blasts, or walls of flames. While this could have been an interesting mechanic, the strategy behind it was rather simplistic and boring. You will often clear the screen of enemies in a matter of seconds, and then move on to the next one. You have a standard sword attack, but it does negligible damage.

Level designs range from boring to incoherent, and will often involve beginner’s traps that waste your time. For example, the player will often need to hit levers that remove barriers. In the first two levels, you just hit the lever with your standard attack. In the third level, a lever will destroy the floor below you, dropping you into a pit of spikes. It turns out that you have to throw an object at the switch, but the game gives no hint at this. Even worse is that the spikes in question aren’t instant kill spikes. You instead need to wait until your health runs out and you die.

You can dodge this attack, there’s just no way to know how.

The worst part of this game is easily the boss battles. The hit boxes do not match up with the boss sprites in the slightest. You will often take a hit when the boss sprite has not even touched you, and you can dodge when you are clearly touching them. This makes learning their patterns enormously frustrating. Some of them also require you to beat them within a time limit, but give you no indication of knowing so. It is a shame because the setup to some of these bosses was interesting, and I actually had some fun with the 4th state boss.

But the worst part is that one playthrough is not enough to see the full ending. Neither is two playthroughs, or three playthroughs, or four, or five, or six. You have to play through this pile of dreck SEVEN times to fight the true final boss. The game will throw in a few gimmicks like having the screen shake occasionally, or having you chased by a ghost, but they don’t even make the game more challenging. Your exp levels carry over, which balances out any additional challenge factor. It’s basically just the same bullshit all over again. And no, the final boss is nowhere near good enough to warrant this many playthroughs. Not that I actually played through this garbage seven times, one was enough.

There were some bits and pieces of Amazing Princess Sarah where I had some enjoyment. I wouldn’t consider it the worst platformer ever made, but it’s still far from amazing. I actually don’t even remember how this game ended up in my Steam library, and I will likely forget about this gamemere seconds after posting this review.

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